AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Lawrence Frank's tenure in Detroit is over, and the Pistons are still searching for a coach who can revive the franchise.
The Pistons fired Frank on Thursday after he went 54-94 in two seasons with Detroit. The team announced the move one day after the Pistons lost at Brooklyn to finish this season 29-53.
The next new coach Detroit hires will be the team's ninth since 1999, and although the Pistons won a championship in 2004, their decline has been sharp in recent years.
"We thank Lawrence for his hard work and dedication, but we feel it is in the best interest of the franchise to make a change at this time," team president Joe Dumars said. "Decisions like this are never easy and we wish Lawrence well in the future."
Owner Tom Gores, who took over just before Frank was hired, said earlier this week he expected better results this season and was still assessing the future of both Frank and Dumars.
Frank did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Thursday.
Frank took over before the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign, but the rebuilding Pistons have been slow to improve despite drafting in the lottery the last three years. This is a big offseason for Detroit, which traded veterans Ben Gordon and Tayshaun Prince in the last year and has a decent amount of space under the salary cap.
Frank lost 20 of his first 24 games with the Pistons after the lockout, but Detroit was more competitive toward the end of the 2011-12 season and had reason to hope the worst was over.
Instead, the Pistons lost their first eight games this season. They were playing better by early January, but they slipped again after they lost promising rookie Andre Drummond for an extended stretch because of a back injury. Detroit went 1-13 in March. Frank missed six games that month because his wife fell seriously ill and he returned to New Jersey.
"This has been a very tough season, you know, both professionally and personally," Frank said Wednesday as Detroit's season came to a close. "Could we have won some more games? Of course. Do we have a long ways to go? Yes."
This was Frank's ninth season as a head coach in the NBA. He got his start with the New Jersey Nets in 2003-04 at age 33 and spent seven seasons coaching the Nets.
Frank's fate may have been sealed during March, when the Pistons were uncompetitive at times. Detroit lost by 39 at San Antonio on March 3 and by 37 at home against Brooklyn on March 18.
"Not a lot of positives you can take away from this season, but we went through adversity together," swingman Kyle Singler said. "It's motivation to get better."
Detroit remained in title contention in the years immediately following its 2004 championship, but the Pistons haven't made the playoffs since 2009. After Flip Saunders was fired in 2008, Michael Curry lasted only one season as coach and John Kuester made it through two.
Assuming the Pistons don't bring back one of their previous coaches, this will be their ninth different coach since 1999. Only the Washington Wizards – with 10 – have had more, according to STATS.
Gores showed up for Detroit's home finale Monday and said he was looking forward to the offseason – but that there needed to be accountability for the team's poor showing.
"We've set ourselves up financially – and basketball operations has set ourselves up – so I'm very excited about the future," Gores said. "But I'm not content about how we performed this year."
Gores stressed the importance of this offseason. The Pistons finally have some roster flexibility, and they have some young talent in Drummond, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight, but they can't afford to waste another opportunity to improve.
"We are prepared to spend, and we are prepared to do what we have to do to get this franchise forward," Gores said. "Make no doubt about it, we want to win. Yes, you can tell the world: We're ready to spend."
Jarrett Jack, Golden State Warriors
Having a career season for the surprising Warriors, Jack has averaged 14 points and nearly 6 assists, while playing both guard slots in a reserve role for head coach Mark Jackson. Highly capable of running an offense, Jack will spell Stephen Curry, but his versatility to play off the ball and create offense for himself has been welcomed.
Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers
As smooth a scorer (17 points in under 30 minutes) as we have, Crawford is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/13/top-10-nba-shooting-guards_n_2287590.html#slide=1848492">highly proficient playing both guard slots</a> and a great aid to Chris Paul, whom coach Vinny Del Negro can sit while platooning Eric Bledsoe and Crawford.
Kevin Martin, OKC Thunder
Martin has thrived playing alongside Kevin Durant Russell Westbrook while ascending to one of the NBA's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/13/top-10-nba-shooting-guards_n_2287590.html#slide=1845181">most efficient scorers</a> on the most efficient offense. Per Synergy Sports, he ranks in the 84th percentile or better in all of the following categories: Spot up, isolation, pick-and-roll, transition, hand offs and miscellaneous.
J.R. Smith, New York Knicks
Extremely dynamic scorer who is as volatile as he is gifted, Smith's efficiency has plummeted over the past six weeks or so. Despite his 16 points per game, he's shooting a mere 40 percent from the floor. When he's rolling, Smith is a great boon and pressure release to Carmelo Anthony, but he must pick his spots better for the Knicks to achieve legitimate postseason success.
Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
Has been limited by slew of injury problems this season, but continues to change the tenor of games off the bench for the Spurs with his brutally attacking style. Ginobili's unique finishing ability around the basket has resulted in a 68 percent conversion rate on such attempts this season, the second best clip of his ten-year career, per <a href="http://www.hoopdata.com/player.aspx?name=Manu%20Ginobili">Hoopdata.com</a>.
Ray Allen, Miami Heat
Perhaps the greatest shooter in league history, Allen has been a perfect for for the Heat. His 42.4 percent clip from distance is a constant floor stretcher, and despite his half-season in South Beach, has clearly become both LeBron and Dwyane Wade's favorite kickout option.
Ryan Anderson, New Orleans Hornets
Anderson is tricky because he's started 17 games, yet remains eligible for the sixth man award. Still just 24, he's one of the premier stretch fours in the league, shooting over 40 percent from distance while average 17 points and maintaining a healthy 19.45 PER. Would be very well served on a contender where he can play off more talented scorers.
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
To my surprise, has had a really nice rookie season, averaging nearly 1.7 blocks per game while maintaining a stellar PER of 22.4. Only thing is a lack of minutes, thanks to head coach Lawrence Frank, who oddly prefers journeymen Jason Maxiell over Drummond, hence his 54 games started to Drummond's zero. Must develop some range shooting the ball, considering he's just 17 percent from 3-9 feet, <a href="http://www.hoopdata.com/player.aspx?name=Andre%20Drummond">per Hoopdata.com</a>, but athletically and around the basket, he's already very special.
Louis Williams, Atlanta Hawks
A bit of a tweener, he's a one-trick pony but a really talented natural scorer nevertheless, Williams -- formerly the top ranked high school player in America -- is out for the year yet averaged 14 points off the bench before. Still, he is plagued by the same issues he had in Philly, namely a lack of defense and inconsistency shooting the ball from the perimeter.
Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls
An ideal fit for coach Tom Thibodeau and the always rugged Bulls, Gibson is effective playing both power forward and center. Has an excellent motor and is a high level defender, plus his ability to knock down the 16-footer is a plus.